Ticket Bots Ban Comes Into Force In UK, Threatening ‘Unlimited Fine’

The UK’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) has put into force new legislation banning ticket resellers from using automated software to bulk-buy event tickets.

The DCMS stated that anyone caught breaking the law, which comes into force on July 5, “will face an unlimited fine.”

UK Parliament
– UK Parliament
The Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport just put its new ticket bots ban into force

According to the DCMS, bots being used to buy up more tickets that any one person is allowed to purchase, have become an all too familiar problem for consumers, who often try in vain to see their favourite musicians, sports stars or shows.

“But, thanks to new legislation and regulatory changes the tide is now turning against the touts,” the DMCS announcement reads.

Digital and Creative Industries minister Margot James added: “Fans deserve the chance to see their favourite artists at a fair price. Too often they have been priced out of the market due to unscrupulous touts buying up huge batches of tickets and selling them on at ridiculous prices.

“From today I am pleased to say that we have successfully banned the bots. We are giving the power back to consumers to help to make 2018 a great year for Britain’s booming events scene.”

FanFair Alliance campaign manager Adam Webb said: “Taking action against touts who bulk-harvest tickets is another important step towards cleaning up the so-called secondary market.

“Alongside strong and swift enforcement of consumer legislation through agencies like National Trading Standards and the Competition & Markets Authority, there is clear potential to root out the bad actors and to allow a new breed of fair, transparent, and law-abiding ticket resale services to flourish.”

Annabella Coldrick, chief executive of the Music Managers Forum, commented: “The new changes to the law including banning bots will help increase the chances of tickets getting into the hands of fans. The entire market is now shifting with the increasing ability to enforce artists terms and conditions and provide face-value resale options which are fan-friendly. These changes have the potential to have a global impact and the U.S. is now looking to UK consumer law to help clean up it’s own ticketing market.”

StubHub’s general manager in northern EMEA Wayne Grierson said: “StubHub has a long history of supporting anti-bot regulations in many jurisdictions. As the UK’s anti-bot legislation comes into force today, we welcome the Government’s action on this issue. The misuse of these programmes harms all aspects of the ticketing industry, and most importantly prevent fans from accessing live events. However, legislation alone cannot stop this practice. Primary issuers need to invest in technology which will ensure that bots are not able to hoover up tickets from their site. They also need to report any bot attacks to the relevant authorities so that the practice can be stopped.”

The UK government has been working on regulating the ticket resale market for years. After conducting hearings and gaining an understanding of the secondary market throughout 2016, it introduced new rules on secondary ticketing into consumer law in April, demanding that ticket resale sites provide buyers with all the information they require to make a sound purchase.

The Competition and Markets Authority subsequently requested specific information from StubHub, Viagogo, Get Me In! and Seatwave. Apart from Viagogo, all complied and pledged to become more transparent.

Update: The comment from StubHub’s Wayne Grierson was added in after the original article had already been published.